The overall crime rate in Nassau County last year dropped to a new all-time low as crimes in almost all categories — including homicides and shootings — fell slightly compared with 2015, department statistics show.
Crime dropped 1.6 percent, from 26,571 incidents in 2015 to 26,134 in 2016, according to department statistics. And violent crime — including homicide, rape and shootings — fell 8.7 percent, statistics show. There were 48 shootings last year, a decrease of 2 percent from 2015. Police officials said it was the lowest recorded crime figure since the department began keeping statistics in the 1960s.
Homicide fell 8.3 percent from 24 in 2015 to 22 in 2016. Rape dropped 60 percent, from 25 to 10. Street robberies sank 14.8 percent, from 344 to 293; commercial robberies decreased 13.7 percent, from 211 to 183; residential burglaries fell 16.7 percent, from 882 to 734; and commercial burglaries declined 4 percent, from 424 to 407, the statistics show. Additionally, felony assaults fell 6.9 percent from 405 to 377, and grand larcenies dropped 7.6 percent, from 3,487 to 3,221.
Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the drops in crime were due to the department’s use of predictive policing — using data and technology to direct resources — and an aggressive two-month push in the spring, when crime typically spikes, to tamp down on known or likely offenders through warrant sweeps and state-mandated DNA collection from those convicted of felonies and penal code misdemeanors.
“If you look at the steady flow and the trend in virtually every crime category, we’ve made huge strides and continue to make huge strides, not only in 2016, but over the last seven years,” Krumpter said. “We’re driven by data here. We are constantly making adjustments in order to drive crime down. Every single day our analysts are bunkering down to use the predictive policing models to identify the persons most likely to commit crimes.”
The crime statistics do not include those from village police departments such as Hempstead, Freeport and Long Beach, except for the number of homicides because the Nassau police Homicide Squad investigates all killings in the county.
Nassau’s crime lows are in line with decreases reported across the region, including in Suffolk County and New York City, even as crime spiked in some big cities nationwide, including Chicago. And Nassau’s homicide count for 2016 is significantly lower than that of Suffolk County, which saw 34 killings compared with its western neighbor’s 22. Thirteen of Suffolk’s homicides were attributed to gang violence, while just one killing in Nassau was the result of gangs.
Since 2009, overall crime is down 27.2 percent countywide.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said the hiring of more than 100 new police officers by mid-2017, bringing the force to about 2,500 officers, will help the downward trend.
“The amount of training that’s done as well as the foresight in employing technology, has helped us not only be below the national trend, but significantly below the national trend,” Mangano said.
Mangano was indicted on federal corruption charges last year and has pleaded not guilty.
The only crime category countywide to have an increase was stolen vehicles, which rose 2 percent, from 478 to 488. This was attributed to a pair of patterns: thieves targeting commercial vans, and separately, 10 vehicle thefts from in front of convenience stores while the owners left the keys in the ignitions.
“We had 10 people alone who went into 7-Eleven while they left them running,” Krumpter said. “So we do need the community’s help. While we’d like to be able to leave our cars running in front of 7-Eleven, it really isn’t in anybody’s best interest to do so.”
While crime fell countywide, there were spikes in burglaries, felony assaults and larcenies in some police precincts, the statistics show.
The increases were most pronounced in the Seventh Precinct, which saw an 8.7 percent rise in major crime last year, the only precinct to have a jump. Located in Seaford, the Seventh Precinct covers the Massapequas and parts of Wantagh, North Wantagh, Bellmore and Merrick.
In the Seventh, commercial robberies rose 28.6 percent, from 21 to 27; residential burglaries climbed 37.5 percent, from 64 to 88; commercial burglaries jumped 37.1 percent, from 35 to 48; and felony assaults soared 111.1 percent, from 18 to 38, according to statistics.
Krumpter attributed the crime spikes in that area — which includes Massapequa, the epicenter of the county’s opioid epidemic — to drug users committing burglaries and robberies in order to fund their drug habits.
“A significant number of the people we’re arresting do have some type of addiction,” said Krumpter, who said his message to residents is to lock the doors to their homes and vehicles and to not leave valuables in their cars. “While crime is up 8 percent, the major crime arrests are up 16 or 17 percent in the precinct, so if you look at it, what you’ll see is that we’ve been aggressively dealing with the issues.”
Krumpter said crime was down 3 percent in the Seventh Precinct for the last 28-day period.
“We know we’re heading in the right direction,” Krumpter said. “Sometimes it just takes time to adjust.”
Joseph Barbieri, who was commanding officer of the Seventh Precinct, was recently moved to the Records Bureau amid a shuffling of personnel that took effect earlier this month.
Asked if there was a correlation between the crime spikes and Barbieri leaving the Seventh Precinct, Krumpter would only say: “The CO was reassigned based on the needs of the department.”
In the First Precinct, stolen vehicles jumped 39.7 percent, from 78 to 109, and commercial burglaries rose 13.6 percent, from 44 to 50. In the Second Precinct, commercial burglaries rose 9.4 percent, and in the Fourth Precinct, commercial robberies climbed 45.4 percent, from 11 to 16, statistics show.
Krumpter said a lot of the felony assaults were domestic. The First Precinct includes Baldwin, Roosevelt, Uniondale, North Merrick, North Bellmore and parts of Merrick, Bellmore and Wantagh.
Krumpter also stressed that despite the spikes, the vast majority of crime categories on the precinct level are down. Additionally, the commissioner said a single assailant committing multiple robberies or burglaries can spike a crime category percentage increase because the numbers are relatively low.
“We look at the global sense, so if you want to cherry pick stats in one little place ... so there are places that are up, there are also places that are significantly down, but when you look at the totality in the county, crime is significantly down,” Krumpter said. “We are up in some of the precincts in burglaries. Like anything else, if you want to data mine you’re going to be able to find those anomalies, and the very reason why we have all those statistics is so we can see emerging trends before they become major issues.”
A series of initiatives also helped decrease crime in 2016, Krumpter said, including the creation of the Long Island Heroin Task Force, comprised of eight detectives and two supervisors as well as State Police personnel, leading to 190 arrests from March to year’s end.
The department also moved its gang detectives from the Special Investigations Squad to the Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Unit, allowing them to concentrate chiefly on gangs.
And the department also created the Burglary Pattern Task Force, which arrested 42 people and solved 21 crime patterns last year. In early March, residential burglaries were up 28 percent, but ended the year down 16.7 percent.